The image above is a stunning view of a beachside area many Sydney siders and visitors alike know and love, Dee Why. Yet the Dee Why of this postcard was a remarkably different place to what many would recognise today.
Although European occupation of the Dee Why area began as early as 1815, when William Cossar was granted 500 acres of land, Dee Why was slow to be settled. By 1825 the original grant was in the hands of James Jenkins, who owned all of the foreshore land from Mona Vale to Dee Why. His daughter, Elizabeth, was interested in and impressed by the Salvation Army and its work in 1885 she gave them 30 acres of land near Narrabeen Lagoon and went on to donate more land at Dee Why and money to build a home of rest for officers of the Salvation Army who needed time for recuperation (the building still stands, now known as Pacific Lodge). After Elizabeth’s death, the land owned by the Salvation Army in the area grew and they built an industrial farm, a boys home and a home for little girls in Dee Why.
Today we think of Dee Why as a busy beachside suburb, but up until 1911, this was not the case. In 1911 there were only five homes in Dee Why, reflecting the role of the Salvation Army in the area, and the amount of land they owned. In 1911 though, they decided they owned too much land and the proceeds of sale could be used more constructively to help others. They subdivided the land and the growth of Dee Why began. By 1915 there were 125 households and the suburb continued to slowly grow until after World War Two when the population, and the number of houses grew dramatically, eventually becoming what we see today.